Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ann Neurol. 2008 Feb;63(2):141-7.

Functional neuroimaging of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty.

Author information

  • 1University of California Los Angeles Brain Mapping Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The difference between believing and disbelieving a proposition is one of the most potent regulators of human behavior and emotion. When one accepts a statement as true, it becomes the basis for further thought and action; rejected as false, it remains a string of words. The purpose of this study was to differentiate belief, disbelief, and uncertainty at the level of the brain.

METHODS:

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of 14 adults while they judged written statements to be "true" (belief), "false" (disbelief), or "undecidable" (uncertainty). To characterize belief, disbelief, and uncertainty in a content-independent manner, we included statements from a wide range of categories: autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual.

RESULTS:

The states of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty differentially activated distinct regions of the prefrontal and parietal cortices, as well as the basal ganglia.

INTERPRETATION:

Belief and disbelief differ from uncertainty in that both provide information that can subsequently inform behavior and emotion. The mechanism underlying this difference appears to involve the anterior cingulate cortex and the caudate. Although many areas of higher cognition are likely involved in assessing the truth-value of linguistic propositions, the final acceptance of a statement as "true" or its rejection as "false" appears to rely on more primitive, hedonic processing in the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula. Truth may be beauty, and beauty truth, in more than a metaphorical sense, and false propositions may actually disgust us.

Comment in

PMID:
18072236
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk